Design elements: The title says it all. The cover should include a US military aerial drone (e.g., Predator) flying over Mexico (a map? Mayan temple? a village? a city? a Mexican flag?). It should also feature the title in block letters--preferably not military stencil--as well as my name "Des Michaels" in much smaller letters. An AK-47 or RPG (rocket propelled grenade) can be added (these are iconic war images and these weapons are featured in the book) but aren't necessary if the overall cover image becomes too cluttered. Radar scopes, satellites, fists clenching guns...feel free to add other pertinent images other than the ones I've mentioned--but not at the expense of visual clarity. POV is up to you.
Mexican locations include: an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, big cities, desert, jungle, mountains. Any one of those would do.
Size: need one image 500 x 800 pixels (Kindle requirement) and one image 600 x 730 pixels (Nook requirement). Please make them 300 DPI and put them in .psd format so I can resize them as needed.
Your best design guide: Please browse the top 20 best-selling techno-thrillers on Amazon. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestseller
As you can see, the covers are mostly simple, high contrast, uncluttered--easily viewed and read. The challenge? Sometimes "perfectly clear" = perfectly boring.
The most important thing is that the title and subject matter of the book--drones, war, Mexico--be clearly conveyed in a brief glance of the cover. Dark, busy, cluttered images won't sell books, especially when viewed only as a thumbnail.
NOTE: the REAL best-selling authors like Thor and Clancy have their names as large or larger than the title because their name sells their book. Well, I'm not there yet, so the title should be much larger than the name. A cover that clearly communicates the title, the drone(s), a war and Mexico will sell the book.
A brief on drones: The most iconic and enduring "drone war" image is the ubiquitous Predator (MQ-1) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. The newer model is the Reaper (MQ-9) but there are many more aerial models, including multi-rotored "helicopter" styled vehicles like the Draganfly X6. But wait, there's more! There are ground drones that look like tanks (Talons), underwater vehicles that look like torpedoes, USVs (surface vessel drones) like the Spartan Scout...you get the idea...if there's a drone image that REALLY grabs you more than the Predator, try it! Whatever will capture the imagination of a potential reader and get them to buy the book is the goal.
My hunch is that I'll pick the design that meets all of the criteria stated above because that's my best guess as to what kind of cover will help me sell the most books. But jeepers, I'm no visual artist. So maybe one of you will put together an amazingly effective image that is so radical, iconic, simple and striking that it looks more like a piece of conceptual art than a traditional book cover. All that matters to me is that your cover helps me sell books.
Last thought: Covers that use original art work and/or royalty free images are more likely to get selected. My goal is to upload the book 24 hours after I've received the winning cover file. I don't have the time or budget to secure images with difficult and/or expensive copyright issues.